London Calling: How to eat and drink for under £25 or $30 a day (including the service charge)!!

London Calling: How to eat and drink for under £25 or $30 a day (including the service charge)!!
London Calling: How to eat and drink for under £25 or $30 a day (including the service charge)!!

Last week I told you six (6) easy ways to spend 48 hours in London! This is all well and good I hear you say, but how do I eat and drink without breaking the bank?

It’s true that London is known as one of the world’s most expensive cities, but amazingly, you can still eat well, and save quite a lot of money at the same time, by being diligent, keeping your eyes and ears open, and thereby saving yourself a pretty penny!

But how?

Read on….!

London Calling: How to eat and drink for under £25 or $30 a day (including the service charge)!!
London Calling: How to eat and drink for under £25 or $30 a day (including the service charge)!!

As breakfast, Britain has kedgeree (with origins in India). Kedgeree was very popular in Victorian times and is a mixed breakfast dish of smoked haddock, rice and hard-boiled eggs, Scottish porridge (with a dash of whisky for cold days), the all-day breakfast or the full English breakfast known as “a fry up.”

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Get yourself a full English breakfast or an all-day breakfast, otherwise known as a "a fry up." Yum!
Get yourself a full English breakfast or an all-day breakfast, otherwise known as a “a fry up.”
Yum!

A full English breakfast generally consists of slices of toast, rashers of bacon, fried sausages, fried mushrooms, fried or scrambled eggs, fried tomatoes, black pudding, and a dollop of baked beans, accompanied by ketchup or HP brown sauce! It could also sometimes involve hash browns or a portion of chips!

London is flushed with gastro pubs and fancy restaurants. Skip all that and go for an even more authentic touch of a “greasy spoon” otherwise known as a local cafe.  Go local and try breakfast there. I was able to have fried egg and toast and a mug of “workman’s tea for just £3.10. Many places have breakfast before 11:00 a.m. and for under £4.00.

If you’re really vigilant, you can find some places charging just £1.50!

A lovely bowl of porridge, milk & honey. And if you’re so inclined, a dash of whisky too!
A lovely bowl of porridge, milk & honey. And if you’re so inclined, a dash of whisky too!
  • GET YOURSELF A SANDWICH: Legend has it that “sandwiches” existed over 2,000 year ago however, an English aristocrat is credited with making the word “sandwich” popular.

In 1762, John Montagu, the 4th Earl of Sandwich, asked for meat to be served between slices of bread, in order not to disturb a gambling game of cards.  From then on, people started to ask for “the same as Sandwich!”

A sandwich anyone?
A sandwich anyone?

In Britain, pretty much every shop, supermarket and pub, will sell you a large variety of wonderful sandwiches, spanning from an egg and cheese sandwich to a chicken and chorizo one. I usually get myself a lovely prawn and cocktail sandwich, but this time I had a British outdoor – bred Wiltshire cured ham hock, and extra mature Barber’s West Country cheddar cheese sandwich, covered by sweet, tangy onion, and ale chutney and mayonnaise, accompanied by a mixture of spinach and rocket salad!

In Britain, pretty much every shop, supermarket and pub, will sell you a large variety of wonderful sandwiches!
In Britain, pretty much every shop, supermarket and pub, will sell you a large variety of wonderful sandwiches!

Sandwiches are a staple!

If you went to a supermarket and took the “meal deal” which includes a sandwich pack, a packet of crisps or potato chips, and a soft drink, lunch would generally not cost more than £4.30!

  • HAVE A “CITY” LUNCH: Many restaurants that happen to be located in the “city” have specially-priced lunches. You can find them in the banking, finance and shopping districts.

I decided to go to Mayfair.

I decided to go to genteel Mayfair!
I decided to go to genteel Mayfair!

For those of you who don’t know, Mayfair is in one of the most exclusive real estate, residential and shopping areas in London, as well as the largest concentration of five-star hotels, global corporate head-quarters and prominent embassies!

The restaurant I chose was just one minute from The Ritz London hotel and was called Quaglino’s.

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The restaurant I chose was just one minute from The Ritz London hotel and was called Quaglino's!
The restaurant I chose was just one minute from The Ritz London hotel and was called Quaglino’s!

I had the “bar lunch” on the mezzanine level next to the cocktail bar, which was a main course and a glass of wine for £10.00!

I ordered the Quaglino’s Fish and Chips with a small turret of mushy peas-mint sauce, a small turret of tartar sauce, half a lemon, and a glass of white wine.

The bill with a service charge of 12.5% turned out to be only £11.25!

This is what the fish and chips looked like, except my meal came with a tiny turret of mushy peas-mint sauce, tartar sauce and a glass of white wine too! ©VisitBritain
This is what the fish and chips looked like, except my meal came with a tiny turret of mushy peas-mint sauce, tartar sauce and a glass of white wine too!
©VisitBritain
  • SPLASH OUT ON A FANCY DINNER: For the month of January and February, twenty-two fine dining / top London restaurants offered specially-priced menus from only £15.00. Sponsored by the London Evening Standard newspaper, which believed that everyone could afford to eat at the best places, for only a fraction of the cost. The offer was a set-priced two course lunch or dinner including wine, for £15.00, a set-priced two course lunch or dinner including a glass of champagne, for £20.00 or £25.00 per person!

I decided to reserve a table at the French Restaurant: Le Pont De La Tour.

Le Pont de la Tour’s French outside terrace. You can clearly see the Tower of London.
Le Pont de la Tour’s French outside terrace. You can clearly see the Tower of London.

Le Pont De La Tour is a traditional French Restaurant that combines Parisian chic with a modern twist, and fabulous views of Tower Bridge, the River Thames, and the London Skyline. I had made a reservation for a table as close to the riverside terrace as possible, as it was too cold to actually have dinner on the terrace. The restaurant happily obliged.

The service was impeccable.

I had picked the restaurant because the end of my city of London walking tour was on the other side of Tower Bridge. I arrived a little early and was offered the possibility to have a drink at the bar so I ordered Japanese beer! At 6 p.m. sharp, I was welcomed again, and escorted to my seat which was the exact table that I had requested: the inner terrace with a view of Tower Bridge.

Tables set for lunch & dinner at Le Pont de la Tour!
Tables set for lunch & dinner at Le Pont de la Tour!

The French and Italian waiters were very obliging and helpful, and made me feel extremely welcome, as I was on my own. The meal I picked was the Evening Standard Meal Special – a set-priced two course dinner including a glass of champagne – for a stupendous price of £20.00!

I had raviolo of braised beef, buttered spinach, and horseradish velouté for my first course, accompanied by fresh, home-made rice-flour-potato bread, and a small platter of butter.

Raviolo of braised beef, buttered spinach, and horseradish velouté!
Raviolo of braised beef, buttered spinach, and horseradish velouté!

Roasted pheasant breast, chou farcie, parsnip puree, and wild mushroom sauce for my second course,

Roasted pheasant breast, chou farcie, parsnip puree, and wild mushroom sauce!
Roasted pheasant breast, chou farcie, parsnip puree, and wild mushroom sauce!

and a lovely glass of bubbly champagne.

A lovely glass of bubbly champagne!
A lovely glass of bubbly champagne!

They even gave me a plate of petit fours.

On the house.

How nice of them!

A plate of Petit Fours!
A plate of Petit Fours!

The servings were timely and the meals were served hot, and even though these prices were economical, the service wasn’t. I really had a good, comfortable time!

And the damage?

One glass of Japanese beer, two courses, a glass of champagne and a service charge of 12.5%, came to a fabulous cost of £27.56.

So for two days in London a total cost of £46.22 (including the service charge)! That’s £23.11, and therefore less than £25.00 per day!

Hurrah!

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London Calling: How to eat and drink for under £25 or $30 a day (including the service charge)!!
London Calling: How to eat and drink for under £25 or $30 a day (including the service charge)!!

For more information contact: Quaglino’s. You can enjoy a selection of light snacks and quick lunch dishes from Monday to Saturday for only £10.00, with a glass of wine, at the bar.

For more information contact: Le Pont De La Tour. Enjoy a set-price 2 course lunch or dinner for £15, £20, or £25 per person, whilst looking at fabulous views of the River Thames and London’s Tower Bridge.

For more information contact: London Evening Standard. For specially selected meals, go out and enjoy London with various restaurant offers, at a great selection of leading restaurants.

No voucher or registration details are necessary.

Just reserve your table online or make a telephone reservation. Three course meals are also available and the offer is valid until 23rd February (excluding Valentine’s Day), 2014.

Book your hotel here!

LONDON CALLING: HOW TO EAT AND DRINK FOR UNDER £25 OR $30 A DAY (INCLUDING THE SERVICE CHARGE)!!

Me, taking a selfie of myself!
Me, taking a selfie of myself!

This article is not sponsored and all opinions are my absolute own.

You don’t have to be afraid of London prices, as you now know the secret to by-passing the cost!

Look for specially selected menus for specific times of the day, or times of the year.

A red double-decker London Routemaster bus, pimped up & decorated!
A red double-decker London Routemaster bus, pimped up & decorated!

Watch this space!

Note! I never travel without insurance as you never know what might happen.

I learnt my lesson in Spain. And obviously, in countries like Qatar, where technically the risk is higher, I can’t imagine going that far beyond, WITHOUT INSURANCE. No siree! You can get yours here, at World Nomads!

Please note that there are now affiliate links (for the very first time) connected to this post. Please consider using the links, because every time some sort of accommodation or travel insurance is booked via my links I get a little percentage, but at no extra cost to yourself!

A win-win for all!

Thanks a million!

London Calling: How to eat and drink for under £25 or $30 a day (including the service charge)!!
London Calling: How to eat and drink for under £25 or $30 a day (including the service charge)!!

Have you ever had an English breakfast? Have you been to a fine dining restaurant in London? What do you think of my London food guide? Have your say!

See you in Berlin.

If you have any questions send me a tweet, talk to me on Facebook, find me on Linkedin, make a comment below, look for me on Google+ or send me an Email: victoria@thebritishberliner.com

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HAGGIS, TATTIES AND NEEPS: 10 THINGS TO DO IN EDINBURGH

We had a brilliant time in Edinburgh and it hardly rained at all, although it did! Here are a couple of tips in order to have a really good time in the Scottish capital.

Bagpipes

1.  Eat Scottish food: Scottish food is pretty rustic and includes such fare as haggis, which is mutton or lamb offal, minced and mixed with, oatmeal, suet, herbs, spices, various seasonings, potatoes known as tattties and Swedes (in Scotland) or turnips (England) known as neeps, stuffed into sheep’s stomach!

Haggis, Tatties & Neeps

It is an acquired taste and can be slightly gritty so try not to think about it!

You can get it all over Edinburgh. We went to a restaurant called The Royal McGregor which is on the Royal Mile. It showcases local Scottish food with a modern twist and supports independent breweries. We had: Haggis, Neeps and Tatties. Cullen Skink which is a traditional Scottish soup made with smoked haddock, potatoes and cream and served with crusty bread and The Wee Taster which was a sample of three local beers comprising of Dragon Head (Orkney), Wayfarer (Orkney) and Lia Fail (Inveralmond).

Cullen Skink

2.  Go to Edinburgh Castle: Edinburgh Castle is the city’s main tourist attraction and source of historical life. It is a mighty fortress which defended the nation and soars over the city. It’s powerful stonewalls have supported battles and sieges and is home to the Scottish crown jewels, three military museums, the National War Memorial, the Prisons of War exhibition, three gift shops and is an absolute “must –see” and a world heritage site.

It is also host to The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo ceremony which takes place in August. Guided tours are available and at least two hours are needed.

Edinburgh Castle

3.  Go on a Walking tour: Walking around is a brilliant way to see where you are, establish your bearings and get to grips with your surroundings. In economic times, finding a way to cut costs is the rage, so a free walking tour is an excellent choice. There are many companies to go with, such as SANDEMANs NEW Europe free walking tours and you can read more about it here in the bloody streets of Scotland!

Our Free! Free!! Walking tour.

4.  Climb Arthur’s seat: Arthur’s seat is the main peak of a group of hills known as Holyrood Park. Robert Louis Stevenson, a famous Scottish poet once described the hill as “a hill for magnitude, a mountain in virtue of its bold design.” Holyrood Park is opposite Queen Elizabeth’s official Scottish residence and a stone throw from the Scottish parliament building. It’s also a huge Royal Park that covers lochs, hills, crags, terrains and parkland.

On the path to Arthur’s Seat

Arthur’s seat is the largest of three parts of an extinct volcano approximately 350 years old. It is said that Arthur’s Seat is so named in reference to King Arthur of legend, and that the name is a corruption of Ard-thir Suidhe meaning “a place on high ground.”

The Music Producer” and “The Tall Young Gentleman” climbed this hill and it was a good walk. Quite windy, open to the elements and natural. Note that the pinnacle terrain is quite demanding and uneven, but you are rewarded with fabulous views. There are no barriers, a few rabbits, shrubs and lots of thistles (Scotland’s native flower). Definitely, take a jacket or jumper, good sturdy shoes and a camera.

Arthur’s Seat – the extinct volcano

5.  Make peace with ghosts: We weren’t able to go on a ghost walk on this trip but I have been on one, years ago. They are good. Very good.

Edinburgh is just ripe for stories of murder and gore. It has always had public executions, religion was taken seriously, superstition was rife, body snatching was common and murder was always around the dark, narrow, cobbled corners.

However, I made some enquiries and if you do want to go, check out the following organisations: Cadies & Witchery Tours – a witchery tour of fearless phantoms in a suspenseful and mirth-filled tour of Edinburgh’s Old Town. The Real Mary King’s Close – a costumed character tour guide in a warren of underground streets and spaces. The Ghostbus Tours Edinburgh – a theatrical sightseeing tour on a classic 1960’s Routemaster.

Mary King’s Close

6.  Go to the Pub: There are so many wonderful pubs in Edinburgh and you can’t fail to find something for you. On the Royal Mile, you can sample lots of booze from local breweries and local farmers both alcoholic and non-alcoholic.

Have you ever heard of whisky such as: Queen Islay, Island Hopper and Bruichladdich Range? What about Scottish brew such as Innis and Gunn Oak Aged Beer, St Mungo Lager, Fraoch Heather Ale or even Red Kite also known as Black Isle Organic? How about traditional Scottish drinks such as Atholl Brose and Drambuie? Let us also not forget “soft” drinks such as Irn Bru and Red Kola?

Inside The White Hart Inn

7.  Scare yourself silly at the Edinburgh Dungeon: Whenever, we’re in Edinburgh, it’s one of the places we go to and is good old fashioned horrible fun! The Edinburgh Dungeon is an off-shoot of the London Dungeon with other branches in Berlin, Hamburg, Amsterdam, Warwick Castle, York, and The Blackpool Tower.

It’s the ultimate thrill-filled story of Edinburgh’s horrible past in which costumed actors try to chop off your head, sentence you to hell, take out your entrails, lose you in Mary’s King’s Close and generally, give you a scary good time. Give yourself at least an hour and a half and pre-book if you can, as queues tend to be long.

The Edinburgh Dungeon

8.  Do a bit of culture: Bring your camera ‘cos there’s just so much to see. We had a quick peek at the University of Edinburgh, the Palace of Holyrood House which is the Queen’s   official Scottish residence, The Queens Gallery, the Scottish Parliament, and we just managed to squeeze in the “People’s Story Museum”.

We also went to the New Town which is the Georgian part of Edinburgh and houses the National Gallery, the City Art Centre, the Royal Gardens and Park, the Scotsman Hotel, and Princes Street which is the High Street for those who want to go shopping. In fact, for a short trip of two nights and two days, we did pretty well!

On the other side of Edinburgh Castle

9.  Have an early dinner: I live in Berlin and I’ve lived on the Continent for a very long time and although I am British, I tend to forget that as far as dining and going out is concerned, Britain is still stuck in 1912!

In short, if you want to go out for dinner, make it early. Early being, 6-8 p.m. as in many establishments, the kitchen closes at 9p.m. Many dining establishments also do not welcome children after 7p.m. In one particular restaurant, they said that 5p.m. was the very latest time and we would be put at the back of the restaurant.

I – don’t – think – so!

I pay good money and I therefore want to have a good seat, feel relaxed and made to feel as comfortable as possible, and not like a thief in the night just because we have a child!

Berlin, where I live, is fantastic in that regard as restaurants are open up to 11p.m. and sometimes even 12 midnight. Restaurants in Berlin would wait for the very last guest and that could spill into the wee hours of the night. Ditto: going out for a drink. In Edinburgh, the pubs at the Royal Mile were lovely, friendly and open ‘till 1.a.m.

In the New Town, we didn’t dare go in. There were huge, grim bouncers outside and the clientele were rough-looking and rowdy. In Berlin, nobody leaves the house until 10p.m. to go out, and if you’re really pushed, 9p.m. when Happy Hour ends!

Be aware that in Scotland, in the UK even, early dining is necessary and enquiries made if you have children in tow.

Scones and yummy sandwiches

10.  Talk to the locals: Regardless, of Nr.9; Scottish people are lovely. So friendly, so open-minded and very interested in others. So many people would ask if they could help whenever, we even so much as stood still. People were delighted to have “The Music Producer” who is German, as a tourist in the city. One delightful man even apologised for the less-than fantastic weather and hoped that we were nevertheless, enjoying Edinburgh. “The Music Producer” was amazed; that would not have happened in Berlin!

The George’s Heriot’s School, which is a leading independent private £10,299. per year co-educational school founded in 1628, was about 10 minutes away from our hotel and every time we passed it, everybody thought we were parents applying to register “The Tall Young Gentleman” into the school. So cute.

They were very helpful too!

Hanging out with one of the locals

If you want to go to Scotland, now is a good time as 2013 is the Year of “Natural Scotland” focusing on Scotland’s wildlife and wild natural landscape.

2014 is “Homecoming Scotland” focusing and welcoming the world to “come home” and celebrate the very best of its culture, ancestral heritage, natural resources and delicious food and drink. It should be a good year.

The Royal McGregor restaurant can be found on the Royal Mile. We tried Haggis, Neeps and Tatties – £9.50, Cullen Skink – £5.95, and The Wee Taster – £3.60. http://www.royalmcgregor.co.uk/

Information about Edinburgh Castle can be found on http://www.edinburghcastle.gov.uk/. Adults £16.00. Children £9.60.

Information about the Cadies & Witchery Tours can be found on http://www.witcherytours.com/. Adults £8.50. Children £6.00. Suitable for children.

Information about The Real Mary King’s Close can be found on http://www.realmarykingsclose.com/. Adults £12.95. Children £7.45. Not suitable for children under 5.

The Ghostbus Tours Edinburgh can be found on http://www.theghostbustours.com/edn/edinburgh.html. Adults £16.00. Children £12.00 All children under 15 must be accompanied by an adult. Not suitable for young children.

The Edinburgh Dungeon can be found on http://www.thedungeons.com/edinburgh/en/.

Adults £16.50   Children £12.60. Keep a look out for discounts and vouchers as pretty much every map or pamphlet has a “2 for 1 entry” or “£6 off” voucher enclosed!

An array of kilts

This article is not sponsored and all opinions are my absolute own.

Edinburgh is a fabulous city of mystery and intrigue. What do you think of these Edinburgh tips? Do you agree? Have your say!

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